David Goodis and his Blonde on the Street Corner

Goodis%2C+Blonde+on+the+Street+Corner%2C+LionOne of the lesser novels in the Goodis canon. Not much happens here, and while I was frustrated with its bare-boned approach, I soon realized that is the point Goodis was trying to make. ‘The Blond on the Street Corner’ is a book about stasis, boredom, big dreams gone to shit. Set in the usually downtrodden Philadelphia, four layabouts try to find work during the hard times of the Depression. But instead of writing and striving for the epic narrative — Ayn Rand’s rags-to-riches, or Steinbeck’s loving ode to the misfits with hearts of gold — Goodis weeps out this little novel (at 150 pages) that reads like a minimal discourse in loser-speak and street-corner prose. Poorly-written at points, dare I say, lazy and repetitive. But in free-wheeling spurts of eloquent desperation, there is the usual brilliance associated with Goodis. In some strange way, I imagined this as a black & white sitcom about depression-era losers, ghost-written by Sam Beckett, staged by a young John Frankenheimer, and with a set designed by a skid-row misanthrope born & bred in the tenement burbs outside of Philly. Floors are bare, walls are cracked, jackets are torn and pockets are weighed down with a penny and not much more. In the end, the cast of character’s dreams skitter and twitch, and then resume their static state. Even sex-starved blondes hang their heads in defeat, and that usually doesn’t happen in the stable of Goodis’ femme-fatales. It’s a dismal world not worth taking advantage of. The message, just give up now so it hurts less later. Read the other Goodis novels before this one (‘Street of No Return’ or ‘The Burglar’), and then give this one a chance. It’ll cement your view that Goodis is one of the most misanthropic authors out there this side of Selby Jr. and H.P. Lovecraft.

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